Procedure under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

This Procedure is a guide that tells you what you need to do if you wanted to make a complaint about a country that has broken an agreement about human rights. If you are making a complaint in place of someone else, you will need to get permission from that person in writing, to have proof. This will need to be sent to the Human Rights Committee.

How does it work?

Write down your complaint clearly on paper or on a computer. The complaint has to be written in one of the languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). It needs to include all of your contact information and the details of the complaint with the information in order of date. It is important to explain who the complaint is about and why you feel the agreement was broken. Talk about the solutions you would suggest to fix the problem and explain every step you have taken to try and improve the problem. Your complaint should only be made once every solution has been used, unless one is taking a lot longer to be handled than it should. You will need to explain this situation in your letter, if that is the case. If you have sent this complaint to someone else, it needs to be mentioned in the letter. A copy of this other complaint should be added in your letter. You also need to include a copy of any form (such as a legal document) that you have used to try and solve the problem you are making a complaint about. The complaint cannot be more than fifty pages long. Any complaint longer than twenty pages needs to include a summary. You can ask that the Human Rights committee do not include any personal information in their decision if you feel it is too personal or that it is a very sensitive subject. Do not forget to sign it! There is an example of a complaint letter that can be found on the United Nations website.


What else do I need to know?

  • The Human Rights Committee (HRC) will be responsible to receive and look over the complaints.
  • Complaints cannot be made anonymously.
  • You need to make sure that you have looked into the problem and that no other person has made a complaint on the same thing.
  • The HRC can ask for clarification before they give the complaint to the country.
  • The country should respond to the complaint within 6 months.
  • The HRC can put in a temporary plan that the country needs to follow to avoid causing more damage. This plan is only meant to prevent more problems, it has no effect on the decision of the HRC.
  • Once the HRC have accepted the complaint, both sides have the chance to respond to the other and clear up the situation. This can be done in a meeting or in another way. If one party were to be absent in a meeting, it will not affect the making of the decision.
  • The HRC will come to a decision while considering all of the information provided from both sides of the complaint and may put in conditions to better the situation.
  • The country needs to reply to the HRC within six months of the conditions to inform them of the actions they have taken to help change the situation.
  • The HRC may ask for clarification or more information on the reply of the country.
  • The HRC will assign a person to watch over the country (this person is called a rapporteur). The rapporteur is a middle man between the HRC and the country. He/she watches what the country is doing about the complaint and makes sure that they follow the plan that was put in place, if it is the case.


Where do I send it?

Fax number (if it is urgent): + 45 22 917 90 22

Email address:

Mailing address:

Petitions and Inquiries Section

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

United Nations Office at Geneva

1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Spanish; Castilian
Year Published: